Protection of the whistleblower's rights in Great Britain

Protection of the whistleblower's rights in Great Britain

Damian Sawicki |

Great Britain is certainly recognized as a country that excels among other European nationalities in terms of protection of whistleblower rights. The British act specifying legal regulations on whistleblower safety is one of the most elaborate and the most consistent to date.

Already at the end of the 1980s, this social problem was noticed in Great Britain and it was widely publicized thanks to the charity organization Social Adult. Even then, it was postulated to support whistleblowers and to introduce internal regulations to larger enterprises and public institutions. In 1993, an independent whistleblower support center was established, called Public Concern at Work. This non-profit organization has for years lobbied for the government to introduce clear and transparent sanctions and whistleblower protection laws. At the same time, PCaW offered whistleblowers a free telephone line where they could contact for legal advice and mental support. Within a few years, many model whistleblower laws were created and in 1998 the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair implemented the law. The British law takes care of whistleblowers, but within established procedures. And so, a whistleblower, in order to be protected by law against retaliation or dismissal from work, must report any irregularities he noticed in accordance with 3 whistleblowing modes:

  1. within his organization, where he works
  2. to an external body specified for this purpose,
  3. publicly to the media, non-governmental units or police

The whistleblower must believe that he acts in the public interest, and the subject of the disclosed irregularities is contained in the Act. It is important that the whistleblower tries to report a violation using the first two signaling modes first. This means that only when there is a risk that his employer will try to conceal the matter and punish the whistleblower, or if he does not find an outside body that is competent to deal with the specific problem, that whistleblower can make the matter public - provided that that he is not doing it for his own benefit and that his actions are rational.

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